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Killingly Revisited

Killingly Revisited

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Killingly Revisited

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Lançado em:
Sep 12, 2007


In the first volume, Killingly revealed the initial manufacturing emphasis in the town s villages. Killingly Revisited illustrates how the town survived after losing most of the textile industry, as it moved South, by actively seeking diversified commercial businesses. Within these pages, the town s fascinating past is displayed as newly acquired vintage views are coupled with information recently uncovered from the Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society s newspaper archives and other reference materials. In celebration of 300 years as
an incorporated Connecticut town, the society is sharing photographs of Killingly s mills, businesses, buildings, churches, schools, and
cemeteries. There have been losses from devastating fires that changed the face of Main Street. New streets and roads were added as modes of transportation changed. There are also new views of citizens at work and play.
Lançado em:
Sep 12, 2007

Sobre o autor

Natalie L. Coolidge is honored to prepare this history with the help of members of the Killingly Historical and Genealogical Society. It is a continuation of the work she started in Killingly with the late Robert A. Spencer. Images come from the society�s collection, as well as many gracious donations from the community.

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Killingly Revisited - Natalie L. Coolidge



The town of Killingly has entered the 21st century and will be celebrating its tercentennial during the year 2008. It is a good time to reflect on the history of the town and its people.

It is interesting to study the geological heritage of northeastern Connecticut and discover how different it is from the rest of the United States. It began its formation more that 500 million years ago as the Earth’s tectonic plates moved back and forth, eventually creating Pangaea (a prehistoric giant super continent) that then split apart to form the continents as we know them today. Here in Killingly, we sit atop the remnants of the ancient Iapetus Ocean and a former chain of islands known as Avalonia. Our area’s makeup is different than that of the rest of the United States because of this. There is a definite line of demarcation between the two on a bedrock map of Connecticut by John Rodgers that is called the Lake Char Fault for the Native American name of Webster Lake in Massachusetts. It bisects Killingly and runs close to the intersection of Route 12 and Attawaugan Crossing Road according to Killingly’s town historian, Margaret M. Weaver.

Our hills are the result of a collision of several plates that formed the Appalachian Mountains that were once the world’s largest. Our landscape has been shaped and reshaped due to our geologic history of tectonics, glacial activity, earthquakes, and volcanism. The Ice Age and the melting of the glaciers contributed to the factors that eventually made Killingly into the industrialized place it is today. The millions of rocks that farmers have had to clear from their fields and have been used to make the picturesque stonewalls of New England were dropped here by those glaciers. The sand and gravel banks, as well as the deposits of clay that were used for brick making, were not located here just by chance but by grinding ice and water run-off. The silt deposits from the Five Mile River created the land between the rivers on which James Danielson first settled. The brooks and rivers caused the erosion and shaping of riverbeds and falls. All these factors came together to make Killingly a desirable site for manufacturing and thus a good place for people to call home. (This is a short, simplified description of the fascinating story of how it all began.)

Long before the white man arrived to settle the land, a band of Native Americans lived near the great falls of the Quinebaug River at the conjunction of the Quinebaug and Five Mile Rivers. Corn was their chief crop, but they also raised beans, Native American turnips, squash, pumpkins, artichokes, and tobacco. They had constructed a fort on a low hill just below the falls. Many flint arrowheads have been found in that area. The town abounds in Native American place names that have continued in use through the years. One of the items sought after by the Native Americans from great distances were whetstones or scythe stones used for sharpening knives. The Native Americans got them from a quarry near the mouth of the Mahmunsqueag meaning the spot resorted to for whetstones (Whetstone Brook) in the Elmville section of Killingly, before it flows into the Assawaga (Five Mile) River. Because of its importance, the range of land northward and southward was known to them as the Whetstone Country.

The township of Killingly, as it was laid out in 1708, was described as the wild border land between the Quinebaug and Rhode Island by historian Ellen Larned. Rough hill ranges, alternating with marshes and sand-flats, offered poor inducements to purchasers and settlers. There were few public roads through the land, and it might not have been settled at that time except for one big advantage: the Colony of Connecticut owned it instead of individuals or corporations. The land, therefore, was deemed good enough to be granted to pay creditors or reward men for civil and military services. Under those grants, the first men to take possession of land in the Whetstone Country were Maj. James Fitch and Capt. John Chandler.

Major Fitch received his grant of 1,500 acres by the General Court in 1690, and he immediately laid claim to the most desirable part of the whole tract that lay along the Quinebaug and Assawaga Rivers. Captain Chandler’s grant was high land two miles east of the Quinebaug River that later was called Killingly Hill on what is now Putnam Heights.

Richard Evans was the first white settler in 1693 on a 200-acre claim laid out near the junction of the present Route 44 and Route 21 in Putnam. It was in the northern part of what became Killingly but which is now included in Putnam. Several other tracts of land were claimed but no other settlers followed Evans because of Native American troubles.

In 1707, James Danielson purchased the triangle of land between the Quinebaug and Five Mile Rivers from Major Fitch, making him probably the earliest settler within the borough of Danielson. The general assembly was petitioned by 30 families residing east of the Quinebaug and north of Plainfield and were granted the privilege of forming and incorporating a town in 1708. Gov. Gurdon Saltonstall named the new town Killingly. Its boundaries ran from Rhode Island on the east to the Quinebaug River on the west, and from Massachusetts on the north to Plainfield on the south. The remaining unclaimed lands within the town were granted to 44 proprietors the next year.

The early settlement of the town was in the northern section, especially around Killingly Hill that is now along Route 21 on Putnam Heights. There the people built their church, small shops, and taverns in the mid-18th century. The town records for the first 20 years were misplaced or destroyed. Later, in 1855, that section became part of the town of Putnam.

A group of Massachusetts settlers purchased 2,400 acres in 1711 from John Chandler in the area now called East Killingly. The Chestnut Hill Purchase was the first permanent settlement within the present boundaries of Killingly. The last region to be settled was South Killingly; this was done in 1721, when Jacob Spaulding of Plainfield built the first home there. After this period of settlement, the people of the town got down to the business of building roads, bridges, and schools and taking care of the poor.

The 1800s saw the beginnings of the factories that soon flourished along

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